“I remember the time on campus when you couldn’t throw a box of Communion wafers and not hit a Marianist,” Joe Owens said to laughter when he received the Marianist Service Award at a May 24 dinner in the Kennedy Union ballroom.
While even the Marianists in the room chuckled, Owens’ quip illustrates how vitally important it is today for lay faculty and staff to model the University’s Catholic, Marianist character. As the late former rector Father Paul Marshall, S.M. ’69, once told Michelle Tedford ’94, the night’s other award recipient, “The Marianist charism lives in people.”
Together, Owens and Tedford have logged more than half a century of service to UD. As senior associate director of athletics/athletics health care administrator, Owens demonstrates deep care and compassion for our student-athletes, whether championing for a satellite mental health counselor or providing state-of-the-art strength and conditioning. Tedford, editor of the University of Dayton Magazine, is a brilliant storyteller, a humble and thoughtful colleague, and a courageous advocate for the most vulnerable.
Neither one aspires to see their name in bright lights on a marquee, which made this night all the more special. The Marianists value the gifts of all people, and it’s so important to recognize those who quietly and effectively live out the University’s mission so beautifully in their everyday encounters.
“I’m getting this for doing my job,” Tedford told colleagues, expressing surprise at the recognition. “Everything we write, post, photograph, design, print and share has mission at its heart.” For Owens, who calls Marianist co-founder Marie Thérèse de Lamourous a personal role model and “a superhero,” the award will “forever change” his life. “The whirring noise you hear is Father Chaminade turning over in his grave for the University giving a Marianist award to a Baptist,” he joked.
As a member of the special interest housing committee on campus, Owens helped to establish special interest houses in the student neighborhood named for Marie Thérèse and Adèle, who — along with Chaminade — founded the Marianist family.
“The Marianist founders changed the world,” he said. “They stood in the gap between God’s people and disease and hunger and sin.”
“The Marianist founders changed the world. They stood in the gap between God’s people and disease and hunger and sin.”
In 2007, Tedford traveled with Marianist Educational Associates — lay faculty and staff committed to preserving UD’s Catholic, Marianist underpinnings — on a 10-day pilgrimage through three countries as they traced the path of the Marianist founders. She embarked on the trip as “a reporter and an interloper,” but the experience deepened her appreciation for our Marianist heritage.
“We are pilgrims, learners, doers formed in community with faith at our core,” she said when accepting the award.
One a journalist. The other, an advocate for the well-being of student-athletes. Both are modern-day pilgrims carrying the timeless Marianist mission forward.